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To Charlotte Von Stein

 Fate, why did you grant us this depth

Of insightful vision into our future,

So that our love, earthly happiness,

Is a thing we can trust in happily never?

Why did you grant us such intuition,

Such power to know each other’s heart,

To see, among life’s scattered throng,

The true relationship where we are?

Oh, many thousands of us drift dumbly

Through life, our hearts scarcely known,

Floating here and there, and aimlessly

Fleeing unexpected pain, without hope:

Rejoicing again, at the unexpected

Morning radiance of swift delight:

Only we two, love-filled, wretched

Souls are denied that mutual light

Of loving without knowing one another,

Of seeing in each what each never was,

Setting out anew towards the Dream Lover,

Faltering at phantom Danger’s course.

Happy those an empty dream preoccupies,

Happy those whose presentiments prove vain!

Our every meeting, every mutual sight

Sadly confirms our presentiments, our dream.

Tell me, what does Fate intend for us?

Say, how it bound us so strictly, purely?

Oh, in some far off time you must

Have been my wife, been a sister to me.


You knew every feature of my being,

Saw the purest tremor of each nerve,

With a single glance you could read me,

Hard as I am for mortal eye to pierce:

You brought calm to my heated blood,

Guiding my wild and wandering course,

And in your arms, an angel’s arms, I could

Rest as my ravaged heart was restored.

You bound your lover fast with magic ease,

And made many a day pass gloriously.

What happiness could compare with these

Hours of rapture, thankful at your feet,

Feeling his heart flow towards your heart,

Feeling himself virtuous in your sight,

All his senses brightened by your art,

The raging blood in his veins grown quiet?

And, of all of that, but a drifting memory

Is left, round his uncertain heart again.

He feels the old truth within, eternally,

While this new state only brings him pain.

And we seem to ourselves only half alive,

The brightest day is twilight all around.

Happy are we that Fate torments our lives,

Yet can change nothing of what we found.

Goethe

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Witold Lutosławski; ( January 25, 1913 – February 7, 1994) was a Polish composer and conductor. He was one of the major European composers of the 20th century, and one of the preeminent Polish musicians during his last three decades.

He earned many international awards and prizes. His compositions (of which he was a notable conductor) include four symphonies, a Concerto for Orchestra, a string quartet, several instrumental concertos and orchestral song cycles.

During his youth, Lutosławski studied piano and composition in Warsaw. His early works were influenced by Polish folk music. His style demonstrates a wide range of rich atmospheric textures. He began to develop his own characteristic composition techniques in the late 1950s.

His music from this period onwards incorporates his own methods of building harmonies from small groups of musical intervals. It also uses aleatoric processes, in which the rhythmic coordination of parts is subject to an element of chance.

During World War II, after escaping German capture, Lutosławski made a living by playing the piano in Warsaw bars. After the war, Stalinist authorities banned his First Symphony for being “formalist“— allegedly accessible only to the elite. Lutosławski believed such anti-formalism was an unjustified retrograde step, and he resolutely strove to maintain his artistic integrity.

Through the mid-1980s, Lutosławski composed three pieces called Łańcuch (“Chain”), which refers to the way the music is constructed from contrasting strands which overlap like the links of a chain.

Chain 2 was written for Anne-Sophie Mutter (commissioned by Paul Sacher), and for Mutter he also orchestrated his slightly earlier Partita for violin and piano, providing a new linking Interlude, so that when played together the Partita, Interlude and Chain 2 form his longest work.

The Third Symphony earned Lutosławski the first Grawemeyer Prize from the University of Louisville, Kentucky, awarded in 1985. The significance of the prize lay not just in its prestige—other eminent nominations have included Elliott Carter and Michael Tippett—but in the size of its financial award (then US$150,000).

The intention of the award is to remove recipients’ financial concerns for a period to allow them to concentrate on serious composition.

In a gesture of altruism, Lutosławski announced that he would use the fund to set up a scholarship to enable young Polish composers to study abroad; Lutosławski also directed that his fee from the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra for Chain 3 should go to this scholarship fund.

In 1987 Lutosławski was presented (by Michael Tippett) with the rarely awarded Royal Philharmonic Society’s Gold Medal during a concert in which Lutosławski conducted his Third Symphony; also that year a major celebration of his work was made at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. In addition, he was awarded honorary doctorates at several universities worldwide, including Cambridge.

Lutosławski was at this time writing his Piano Concerto for Krystian Zimerman, commissioned by the Salzburg Festival. His earliest plans to write a piano concerto dated from 1938; he was himself in his younger days a virtuoso pianist.

It was a performance of this work and the Third Symphony at the Warsaw Autumn Festival in 1988 that marked the composer’s return to the conductor’s podium in Poland, after substantive talks had been arranged between the government and the opposition.

Lutosławski also, around 1990, worked on a fourth symphony and his orchestral song-cycle Chantefleurs et chantefables for soprano. The latter was first performed at a Prom concert in London in 1991, and the Fourth Symphony in 1993 with the composer conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In between, and after initial reluctance, Lutosławski took on the presidency of the newly reconstituted “Polish Cultural Council“.

This had been set up after the reforms in 1989 in Poland brought about by the almost total support for Solidarity in the elections of that year, and the subsequent end of communist rule and the reinstatement of Poland as an independent republic rather than the communist state of the People’s Republic of Poland.

He continued his busy schedule, travelling to the United States, England, Finland, Canada and Japan, and sketching a violin concerto, but by the first week of 1994 it was clear that cancer had taken hold, and after an operation the composer weakened quickly and died on February 7 at the age of eighty-four.

He had, a few weeks before, been awarded Poland’s highest honour, the Order of the White Eagle (only the second person to receive this since the collapse of communism in Poland — the first had been Pope John Paul II). He was cremated; his devoted wife Danuta died shortly afterwards.

Lutosławski described musical composition as a search for listeners who think and feel the same way he did — he once called it “fishing for souls”.

A complete list of Lutosławski’s compositions in chronological order can be found at The Polish Music Center.

Although Muzyka żałobna was internationally acclaimed, his new harmonic techniques led to something of a crisis for Lutosławski, during which he still could not see how to express his musical ideas.

Then he happened to hear a radio broadcast of John Cage‘s Concert for Piano and Orchestra. Although he was not influenced by the sound or the philosophy of the music, Cage’s explorations of indeterminacy set off a train of thought which resulted in Lutosławski finding a way to retain the harmonic structures he wanted while introducing the freedom for which he was searching.

His Three Postludes were hastily rounded offhe originally intended to write four) and he moved on to compose works in which he explored these new ideas.

In works from Jeux vénitiens, Lutosławski wrote long passages in which the parts of the ensemble are not to be synchronised exactly. At cues from the conductor each instrumentalist may be instructed to move straight on to the next section, to finish their current section before moving on, or to stop.

In this way the random elements within compositionally controlled limits defined by the term aleatory are carefully directed by the composer, who controls the architecture and harmonic progression of the piece precisely.

Lutosławski notated the music exactly, there is no improvisation, no choice of parts is given to any instrumentalist, and there is thus no doubt about how the musical performance is to be realised.

For his String Quartet (1964), Lutosławski originally produced only the four instrumental parts, refusing to bind them in a full score, because he was concerned that this would imply that he wanted notes in vertical alignment to coincide, as is the case with conventionally notated classical ensemble music. The LaSalle Quartet, however, specifically requested a score from which to prepare for the first performance.

Bodman Rae relates that Danuta Lutoslawska solved this problem by cutting up the parts and sticking them together in boxes (which Lutosławski called mobiles), with instructions on how to signal in performance when all of the players should proceed to the next mobile. In his orchestral music, these problems of notation were not so difficult, because the instructions on how and when to proceed are given by the conductor.

Lutosławski’s called this technique of his mature period “limited aleatorism”. This controlled freedom given to the individual musicians is contrasted with passages where the orchestra is asked to synchronise their parts; the score for these passages is notated conventionally using bars (measures) and time signatures.

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In Five Songs (1956-57) and Muzyka żałobna (1958) Lutosławski introduced his own brand of twelve-tone music, marking his departure from the explicit use of folk music.

His twelve-tone technique allowed him to build harmony and melody from specific intervals (in Muzyka żałobna, augmented fourths and semitones).

This system also gave him the means to write dense chords without resorting to tone clusters, and enabled him to build towards these dense chords (which often include all twelve notes of the chromatic scale) at climactic moments.

Lutosławski’s twelve-note techniques were thus completely different in conception from Arnold Schoenberg’s tone-row system, although Muzyka żałobna does happen to be based on a tone row. This twelve-note intervallic technique had its genesis in earlier works such as Symphony No. 1, and Paganini Variations.

In works from Jeux vénitiens, Lutosławski wrote long passages in which the parts of the ensemble are not to be synchronised exactly. At cues from the conductor each instrumentalist may be instructed to move straight on to the next section, to finish their current section before moving on, or to stop.

In this way the random elements within compositionally controlled limits defined by the term aleatory are carefully directed by the composer, who controls the architecture and harmonic progression of the piece precisely.

Lutosławski notated the music exactly, there is no improvisation, no choice of parts is given to any instrumentalist, and there is thus no doubt about how the musical performance is to be realised.

For his String Quartet (1964), Lutosławski originally produced only the four instrumental parts, refusing to bind them in a full score, because he was concerned that this would imply that he wanted notes in vertical alignment to coincide, as is the case with conventionally notated classical ensemble music.

The LaSalle Quartet, however, specifically requested a score from which to prepare for the first performance. His wife Danuta solved this problem by cutting up the parts and sticking them together in boxes (which Lutosławski called mobiles), with instructions on how to signal in performance when all of the players should proceed to the next mobile.

In his orchestral music, these problems of notation were not so difficult, because the instructions on how and when to proceed are given by the conductor.

Lutosławski’s called this technique of his mature period “limited aleatorism”.This controlled freedom given to the individual musicians is contrasted with passages where the orchestra is asked to synchronise their parts; the score for these passages is notated conventionally using bars (measures) and time signatures.

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Scientists Discover Children’s Cells Living in Mothers’ Brains

The connection between mother and child is ever deeper than thought

Scientific America – By Robert Martone

What it is that fetal microchimeric cells do in the mother’s body is unclear, although there are some intriguing possibilities. For example, fetal microchimeric cells are similar to stem cells in that they are able to become a variety of different tissues and may aid in tissue repair.

One research group investigating this possibility followed the activity of fetal microchimeric cells in a mother rat after the maternal heart was injured: they discovered that the fetal cells migrated to the maternal heart and differentiated into heart cells helping to repair the damage.

In animal studies, microchimeric cells were found in maternal brains where they became nerve cells, suggesting they might be functionally integrated in the brain. It is possible that the same may true of such cells in the human brain.

These microchimeric cells may also influence the immune system. A fetal microchimeric cell from a pregnancy is recognized by the mother’s immune system partly as belonging to the mother, since the fetus is genetically half identical to the mother, but partly foreign, due to the father’s genetic contribution. This may “prime” the immune system to be alert for cells that are similar to the self, but with some genetic differences.

Cancer cells which arise due to genetic mutations are just such cells, and there are studies which suggest that microchimeric cells may stimulate the immune system to stem the growth of tumors. Many more microchimeric cells are found in the blood of healthy women compared to those with breast cancer, for example, suggesting that microchimeric cells can somehow prevent tumor formation.

In other circumstances, the immune system turns against the self, causing significant damage. Microchimerism is more common in patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis than in their healthy siblings, suggesting chimeric cells may have a detrimental role in this disease, perhaps by setting off an autoimmune attack.

This is a burgeoning new field of inquiry with tremendous potential for novel findings as well as for practical applications. But it is also a reminder of our interconnectedness.

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The Duchess of Alba’s treasure

A new exhibition in Madrid will provide the most comprehensive review ever of the legacy of a dynasty that stretches all the way back to the 14th century

El Pais – By Jesús Ruiz Mantilla

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…And that is what Liria Palace really is: a museum with imposing balustrades, but one that bears the emotional seal of the family that lives in it. The art show’s curator, Pablo Melendo Beltrán, was happy to show us around a place filled with valuable paintings by El Greco, Zurbarán, Goya, Ribera, Titian, Marc Chagall, Rubens and Rembrandt, distributed around the Flemish room, the Italian room, the Goya room, and so on.

There is also a top-of-the-line library that draws historians who are interested in first editions of Cervantes’ Don Quixote, or the original navigation charts that Christopher Columbus used on his journey to the Americas.

All these precious items and a whole lot more are coming out of the palace to go on public display in the coming weeks. It is the most comprehensive review ever of the legacy of a dynasty stretching back to the 14th century, when King Henry II of Castille awarded a dukeship to the Álvarez de Toledo family, originally from Alba de Tormes.

The current lineage, however, began later, when the Fitz-James Stuarts, Dukes of Berwick, joined the Albas through marriage in the 19th century…

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… Cayetana’s current spouse, Alfonso Díez, is a very proper, courteous man who ensured that everything went well for the duchess during the photo shoot. “I have very little time,” she warned in the semi-darkness of the room where we were brought before her. Yet as she warmed up to her subject, Cayetana began to relax and expand on the short replies she had sent us via email.

“We would like you to talk a little more about your vision of women in your dynasty. They all had character. Which one of them do you resemble?”

“They were all different. What little I remember about my mother is that she was very beautiful and very tender, and a great sportswoman. Same for my grandmother.

The empress Eugenia de Montijo – wife of Napoleon III – had a strong character, a strong personality, she dressed marvelously well and she adored Spain and France. Cayetana, the one that Goya painted, was very personal; she did things the way she felt and acted as she pleased. But I am unlike any of them, no matter what people say.

“Reconstructing Liria Palace was a lifelong project of yours.”

“My father told me that he would start on it if I took care of the rest. I said yes, and all the work was left up to me. But I don’t back down on things that are worth it.”

“And out of all the things that will go on display, is there something that is especially dear to you?”

“Odds and ends, souvenirs that I have been receiving all my life. But perhaps La Virgen de la granada, by Fra Angelico, is the one I like the most.”

“We are clear about nobility’s service to the Crown, but besides that, what should the role of aristocracy be in today’s society?”

“I am a royalist through and through, and very proud to be so. I was baptized at the Royal Palace and my godparents were the king and queen. Monarchy is the best method of government in Spain, because this is a very difficult country, it is not easy.

Spain’s only glory is its monarchy. It unites a lot more and it prevents boxing matches and factions that throw everything overboard. The blame for what is happening in Spain today goes to…”

At this point Don Alfonso’s voice quickly breaks into the conversation: “All right, Cayetana, it’s over.”

But the duchess insists: “The blame lies with that man that everyone knows about, but who is in hiding right now…”

Alfonso cuts in again: “Everyone makes mistakes, inside and outside Spain.” “I disagree,” Cayetana retorts.

“There you have it, she’s so natural, you come here and she treats you like old friends, and I tell her, ‘Cayetana, these are not friends… these are journalists’,” says her husband.

At that point, we bade them farewell and went on our way – with a photograph, an interview and a suspenseful finale that we will let our readers decipher for themselves.

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New Tappan Zee Bridge Design Released

Transportation Nation By Andrea Bernstein

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A selection committee has recommended a futuristic design for the new Tappan Zee Bridge, with suspension supports leaning outwards, giving the bridge the look of a stripped-down building by Santiago Calatrava.

Calatrava has designed the World Trade Center transit hub, the Milwaukee Museum of Art, and the Athens Olympic stadium.

The New York State Thruway Authority — the agency in charge of the project — will consider the design, along with two others, for a new Tappan Zee Bridge. The three designs were released at Governor Cuomo’s cabinet meeting Wednesday.

The designs range from $3.142 billion to $4.059 billion when all estimated costs are totaled. All three proposals are being called “transit ready,” though images of the bridge being recommended don’t show buses or transit on the roadway.

Details of how the proposals will be financed still haven’t been released. Governor Cuomo said both the bridge’s full cost and the amount of federal financing (still unknown) would have to be tallied before a bridge financing plan could be released.

The three designs will be considered December 17th by the Thruway Authority board.

The state had said the bridge would cost $5.2 billion, but had been hoping the cost would be adjusted downward — in part to lower future tolls  on drivers.

For more on why the bridge matters nationally, and the planning process to date, see our previous coverage.

Brazil Obit Niemeyer

Oscar Niemeyer

Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho (December 15, 1907 – December 5, 2012), known as Oscar Niemeyer (Brazilian Portuguese: [ˈɔʃskaʁ ˈniemajeʁ]), was a Brazilian architect who is considered to be one of the key figures in the development of modern architecture.

Niemeyer was born in the city of Rio de Janeiro on December 15, 1907.He took his German surname from a German Brazilian grandmother with roots in Hanover, Germany.

Niemeyer explained, “my name ought to have been Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida de Niemeyer Soares, or simply Oscar de Almeida Soares, but the foreign surname prevailed and I am known simply as Oscar Niemeyer”.

He spent his youth as a typical young Carioca of the time: bohemian and relatively unconcerned with his future. In 1928, at age 21, Niemeyer left school (Santa Antonio Maria Zaccaria Priory school) and married Annita Baldo, daughter of Italian immigrants from Padua. They had one daughter, Anna Maria Niemeyer (1931–2012).

He pursued his passion at the National School of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro (Escola Nacional de Belas Artes) and graduated with a BA in architecture in 1934.

Niemeyer was best known for his design of civic buildings for Brasília, a planned city which became Brazil’s capital in 1960, as well as his collaboration with other architects on the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

His exploration of the aesthetic possibilities of reinforced concrete was highly influential on the architecture of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Both lauded and criticized for being a “sculptor of monuments”, Niemeyer was praised for being a great artist and one of the greatest architects of his generation by his supporters. He claimed his architecture was strongly influenced by Le Corbusier, but in an interview, assured that this “didn’t prevent [his] architecture from going in a different direction”.

Niemeyer had a leftist political ideology. In 1945, many communist militants who were arrested under Vargas’ dictatorship were released, and Niemeyer, who at the time kept an office at Conde Lages (in Glória), decided to shelter some of them there. The experience allowed him to meet Luís Carlos Prestes, perhaps the most important leftist figure in Brazil.

After several weeks, he gave up the house to Prestes and his supporters, who came to found the Brazilian Communist Party. Niemeyer then joined the Brazilian Communist Party in 1945 and went on to become its president in 1992.

Niemeyer was a boy at the time of the Russian Revolution of 1917, and by the Second World War he had become a young idealist. During the military dictatorship of Brazil his office was raided and he was forced into exile in Europe.

The Minister of Aeronautics of the time reportedly said that “the place for a communist architect is Moscow.” He subsequently visited the Soviet Union, meeting with a number of the country’s leaders, and in 1963 was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize.

Niemeyer was also a close friend of Fidel Castro, who often visited his apartment and studio whilst in Brazil. Castro was once quoted as saying “Niemeyer and I are the last communists on this planet.” Niemeyer was also regularly visited by Hugo Chávez.

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Some critics have pointed out the fact that Niemeyer’s architecture is often contradictory to this view.His first major work, Pampulha, had a bourgeois character, and Brasília was famous for its palaces.

Niemeyer never saw architecture in the same way as Walter Gropius, who defended a rational and industrial architecture capable of moulding society into the new industrial era. Skeptical about architecture’s ability to change the “injust society”, Niemeyer defended that such activism should be undertaken politicaly, and thus simplifying architecture for such purposes would be anti-modern (as it would be limiting constructive technology).

Niemeyer says: “Our concern is political too – to change the world, …Architecture is my work, and I’ve spent my whole life at a drawing board, but life is more important than architecture. What matters is to improve human beings.”

Niemeyer was an atheist throughout his life, basing his beliefs both on the “injustices of this world” and on cosmological principles: “It’s a fantastic Universe which humiliates us, and we can’t make any use of it. But we are amazed by the power of the human mind … in the end, that’s it—you are born, you die, that’s it!”.

Such views never stopped him from designing religious buildings, which span from small Catholic chapels, through to huge Orthodox churches and large mosques. He also catered to the spiritual beliefs of the public who facilitated his religious buildings.

In the Cathedral of Brasília, he intended for the large glass windows “To connect the people to the sky, where their Lord’s paradise is.”

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😉

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